Last year, the Wildcat at Hersheypark thrilled riders for its 20th season. Once the anchor attraction of the Midway America section of the park (yes, you read that correctly: it was an anchor), the very first wooden roller coaster from manufacturer Great Coasters International is now notably less popular.
This has led many coaster enthusiasts, myself included, to speculate that famed company RMC—Rocky Mountain Construction—would be brought in to overhaul and modernize the original ride. Not familiar with this trend? Examples of wooden roller coasters that have been updated with RMC track include: New Texas Giant at Six Flags Over Texas (pictured right), Iron Rattler at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, & Colossus at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
From a distance, Wildcat seems to be the stereotypical “RMC” project: an aging, rough woodie that does not draw in the crowds. However, this has not happened; even the Screamscape rumor mill is quiet when it comes to the Wildcat. Why is this? There are a few possibilities. For one, the Wildcat’s ride isn’t terrible. Or at least, that terrible. The only real patch of unbearable roughness is just that, a patch—specifically, the track leading up to the brake run. Other than that the ride is unsettling but not unnerving; your wits are left intact. Compared to some other aging beasts of lumber (I’m looking at you Georgia Cyclone), it delivers a decent ride and doesn’t shake you to your core.
Undoubtedly because it lacks such soul-crushing roughness, the ride still has quite a few fans—both enthusiasts on the outside and some who work at the park. There are positives! The layout is actually quite nice. It is a picturesque backdrop to the midways of Midway America, and traverses over the landscape beautifully. If you RMC the Wildcat, you will lose some of that beauty. Aesthetically, steel track with inversions can’t evoke the same vintage feel as a classic wooden twister in the mold of the late Harry Traver. Not to mention that not everyone dislikes the ‘Cat. There are even some who—gasp—enjoy the ride as it is!
Of course, that is still a significant minority. The actual ride experience would most definitely be improved if you were to make the change. Ask anyone who has experienced both an RMC and a GCI, and the majority would no doubt prefer the RMC. Not to mention that its Midway America neighbor across the way, Lightning Racer, shares the ‘Cat’s signature GCI twister layout. This redundancy has to be noted.
Because there are positives and negatives to “RMCing” the ‘Cat, I believe management’s decision will come down to how quickly they wish to expand onto their new land. Hersheypark absorbed about 30 acres of land southwest of the entrance which was previously separated by a road. This road has now been moved, and yet the only signs of any future addition there are mere rumors.
For the next big thing, Hershey faces the choice of replacing an older ride or using the aforementioned new land. If they decide to replace, look for an “RMCed” Wildcat to debut in the next 3 years. If they prioritize the new land, it will have to wait.
However, even that is an unfair simplification. The decision to “RMC” an old woodie is not as straightforward a decision as many coaster enthusiasts believe.
What’s Your Take?
What do you say? Should Hersheypark give Wildcat an “RMC” overhaul? Leave a comment below and vote in this poll.